Monday, August 2, 2010
I've loved playing barefoot in our old backyard ever since I took my first steps. I'd often spend the entire afternoon observing the bushes, trees and butterflies. The yard was mostly filled with sharp white rocks, thorny berries and shriveled flowers, but was like that when we bought the home.
Realizing that I loved the outdoors, Mom dug out the dead flowers and thorny plants. Dad purchased some wood, around 100 bags of potting soil and many kinds of seeds - all of which my parents used to create a 12' × 12' patch. They were happy as long as I enjoyed the garden. Its purpose wasn't to grow vegetables, but for us to see the cycle of life - from sprouts to withered leaves. I absolutely loved it even though we never had the chance to harvest anything. The garden wasn't just a haven for slugs, bugs and birds. It was also one for myself.
We moved to a house with a much larger backyard shortly after I turned nine. As I was diagnosed with a weak metabolism due to autism, Mom decided to actually try growing food. The first two years were difficult: the dirt was hard and full of rocks, and the potting soil alone wasn't enough. Anything that did grow was infested with insects.
Therefore, my mother spent lots of time studying how to improve the soil. She ordered a large amount of organic compost, as well as made her own from fruit peels, egg shells and table scraps. From the third year onward, our garden got better every season. With so many well-grown vegetables, the garden became a mecca for our friends as well. There would be about 30 types of produce at harvest time; people would often visit us in hopes of taking home a share.
From Grandpa to Mom, everyone in our family has a talent in cooking. This is especially true for my mother; to her, a kitchen is like water to a fish. She is also well-versed in choosing natural and healthy ingredients. Her cooking skills are exceptional, and anyone that tastes our food would be greatly amazed.
Having enjoyed Mom's cooking for so many years, I recently picked up an interest in making food myself. I'd often help out with the garden and in the kitchen. Time permitting, my plan is to learn a dish from her every few days. I hope you'll join me on my culinary journey as I share our stories and recipes.